Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hairspray!!! 1962 Baltimore and the Corny Collins dance studio ....

Dude looks like a lady!!!...Good Morning Baltimore!...Miss Baltimore Crabs... guess where I was tonight??? Weathervane Playhouse Theater's production of Hairspray! It is 1962 and I was 12 years old and used to watch the Dick Clark after school dance party. The music and the clothing and the segregation issues seem to unfold right in front of my eyes and I felt my heart open with the memories of the dance music playing off Mom's kitchen radio while I did the dishes. It was a hot humid summer in Louisville, KY and the racial tensions were so confusing to my naive heart. I just could not get my little brain around what was the big deal and the music out of Detroit was ...well totally mesmerizing. The young actress who played Tracy Turnblad was so vivacious and thrilling to watch and listen to as she expressed passionately her love for the Art of the theater. Corny Collins was a dear young man who is incredibly talented ...Brice Corder a star who I have watched grow up was so corny in his red toupee that I could not help but beam with Pride for his wonderful talented little self. Edna was played by Dennis Kohler and he just makes me smile when I remember his curvaciously feminine body ( I am not sure this is a word?) plumped up body is a real professional. Dennis fell when he was beginning his number and the stage stood poised while the doctor in the house ...yes we have a wonderful couple of doctors in the house...took care of his bumps and bruises and he returned to the stage to sing his number...a real pro. The second act is complete with numbers like Cooties...Without Love...I know Where I have been... You Can't Stop the Beat...this is when the cast came off the stage and up into the audience to dance with the theater patrons. You know I had to get up and do the Monkey with a young promising actor who thanked me for dancing with him and I thanked him for dancing with me a Grandma :O)!!! My words cannot express the fun I had tonight...I sit in the middle of the front row of the stage...Life does not get better!!! I felt my dear friend's presence tonight...I felt Matthew in the room...I felt his pride in his witnessing the exceptional performance they were delivering tonight. I feel Matthew guiding me as I move into the realization of my vision to have my own studio in a visible location in my community's downtown. Today I wrote my first month's rent and paid the lawyer for the limited liability corporation legalities ...I had my big girl panties on and I felt a sense of pride and responsibility when I walked out the door.

I renewed my friendship with my painter /photographer extraordinaire Priscilla Rink... she came down to see my exhibit in the last days and we will make plans to have a lunch date down at the studio and hopefully get her back to making her magical images. Priscilla is a champion and I look forward to having her back in my life and Talk and Make ART!

Now I am suddenly very tired but my spirit is renewed from a live performance with energetic powerful young actors living their dream. I did have a moment of sadness when I witness a couple walking along the winding road searching for aluminum cans. The economy is very rough here in my little part of the world...somehow I am searching for a way to share my passion for making sacred marks in my artworks and hopefully find a way to change the world for others who are less fortunate than myself. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart


  1. 1962 boy that seems like such a long time ago, doesn't it? Yeah, my oldest sister made us sit and watch American Bandstand while she told us in a lot of detail about the loves and lives of all the main dancers there. I listened but as soon as I could I snuck off to listen to the music and dance with my closet door. :)Bea

  2. I too watched American Bandstand and danced along in the livingroom. It was a time of such upheaval and I was quite young when all of the civil rights activities were going on. Later I lived in the south and it often felt like things needed to change more. All we can do is live our lives as honestly and courageously as possible and keep making art, knowing it is doing good in the world.

  3. I am hopeful with the world's artists working creatively to cross barriers we can change the world first for ourselves, our families and our global community. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  4. Loved your thought about seeing the couple collectin cans and adding some spiritual magic into your art pieces...what an inspiration.